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ancient and important charters of the kingdom. Some of them are very curious and suggestive. On the banks of the Molendinar there had arisen, in the early centuries, amid the thickets of the Wood of Caledon, a small hamlet round a wattled church. This hamlet gradually grew in importance through its proximity to the church. At length William the Lion, while living at the Castle of Traquair, sometime between 1175 and 1178, granted a charter to the bishop and his successors, constituting the hamlet a bishop's burgh, that it might be a mart of barter with the rude inhabitants of the Highlands. Thus was the city of Glasgow gathered, as it were, from the wilderness, and enabled to become what it now is. The parish of Traquair now contains some 700 people ; Glasgow and suburbs have 770,471.

The later kings of Scotland, of the houses of Bruce and Stewart, were led, either by choice or policy, to reside north of the Border district—in Holyrood, Linlithgow, Dunfermline, and Falkland. The direct connection of the royal line with the valley of the Tweed may be said to have terminated with the death of Alexander III., in 1285-86. The comparatively peaceful and prosperous era of the Scottish monarchy, from Malcolm Canmore to the last of the Alexanders, closed fitly amid dark, weird, and ghostly omen. The Princess of Norway—the granddaughter of Alexander III.—was now the heir to the Scottish crown, and the sole hope of the people. Alexander, widowed and childless, was urged to a second marriage. He was wedded at Jedburgh to Yoleta, daughter of the Count de Dreux.

In the even1 Historians of Scotland, vol. v.; Life of Kentigern, p. cv.

ing there was a masked ball in the abbey in honour of the nuptials. The entertainment was more splendid than any that had been in Scotland before. But the joy was marred and the splendour shaded by the sudden appearance of a ghastly figure, which joined for some moments in the dance, seeming to glide as a shadow among the throng; then, amid an awe on every heart, passed away, no one knowing whence it had come or whither it went. The mysterious apparition was readily regarded by the popular mind as a presage of a coming calamity, and the death of Alexander in the following spring was to it the fulfilment of the omen. “Where," said the Earl of March to Thomas the Rhymour, as the morning on which the bard had prophesied the storm rose clear and fair, “ where is the tempest, Thomas ?” “The day is not done,” said the seer, and “ before the ninth hour” there did “ blow the worst wind and tempest Scotland ever felt,” when the news of the death of the last of the kings, ere the War of Independence, passed over the illfated land. “Perhaps,” says Mr Innes, “no other nation in Europe was so unhappily situated as Scotland, from the conclusion of the bright period that ended with the last Alexander till the Union." 1

It may be added that the most unhappy part of this unhappy kingdom during that period, at least for the ordinary upland man and citizen or burgess, was this Border district. It was exposed to outrage, fire, and sword from the south. Every English army must pass through it; and each time this happened the country was made desolate either by the foe or by the inhabitants seeking to starve the

1 Burghs of Scotland, Pref., xviii.

enemy. Even in times of peace there were constant reprisals from each side of the Border; and the internal raids, and the family feuds, were of the most savage, bloody, and persistent kind—almost entirely unchecked by central authority or law.

299

CHAPTER XII.

SIR SIMON FRASER AND THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE.

The fatal fall of Alexander over the cliff at Kinghorn, or more probably the stumble of his horse in a hole on the sands, closed what had been a peaceful and prosperous time for Scotland, and led to a state of trouble, strife, and suffering which few kingdoms have undergone. The period between his death in March 1285-86 and June 1314, the date of the battle of Bannockburn, exhibits the spectacle of the most complete antagonism in history between the spirit of English or Norman feudal domination and aggression, and that individualism of character which shows itself in the unquenchable instinct of freedom and persistent self-assertion of the Anglo-Saxon Scot. In the conflict of this epoch there were revealed and nurtured that strength of will and capacity of patient endurance, that deep-seated instinct of self-rule and sense of political independence, which are to this day conspicuous features of the people on the plains of Lowland Scotland. And in the middle period of this conflictthat is, between the retirement of William Wallace from public life, after his defeat at Falkirk, and the crowning of

Robert Bruce at Scone—Sir Simon Fraser, Dominus, Lord or Laird of Oliver Castle, was the most conspicuous actor.

At the death of Alexander III., the father, also Sir Simon Fraser, represented a family that had been of great influence in the country during several previous reigns. Popular tradition ascribed their origin to Hungary, and carried their lineage back to the days of the fabled Achaius and the mythic Scoto-French league of that period. It made the first of the Frasers Thane of the Isle of Man—an office which was held to have been transmitted to his descendants for several generations. This tradition may at least be taken as implying a general belief in the antiquity of the family. The Frasers of Oliver were indeed the first and greatest feudal barons who had place or power in Peeblesshire. They sat in the Scottish Parliaments or General Councils of the kingdom from Malcolm IV. to the death of Alexander III., and even later, as barons—that is, Domini or Lairds, holding de capite, or directly of the Crown-along with the Bruces, the Mowbrays, Grahams, Maxwells, Flemings, Comyns, and Soulis, and the ancestors of many of the ancient Scottish families who afterwards became Lords of Parliament, or hereditary peers ;? for the distinction between holders of baronies and Lords of Parliament did not arise until the time of James I. In the early Parliaments, the inembers sat simply on equal titles as holders of baronies.

The name was as frequently spelt Fresel and Frisel as Fraser. In the French of the time it was rendered de

1 See Nisbet's Heraldry, i. and ii. 114. Historical Documents (Scotland), i. 130.

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